The Pakistan dates industry, at this time still the fifth largest producer in the world, is on a downward trajectory. The cause is the lack of innovation.
In 1999, Pakistan produced 540,000 tons of dates annually. Instead of growing, this number went down to 467,000 tons in 2015-16, according to data collected by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).
Balochistan is the major producer of dates in Pakistan as it produces 45% of the total production. Sindh stands at the second place with 43% share, followed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with 2% and Punjab with 1%.
Balochistan’s Turbat district produces 100,000 tons of dates, almost one-fourth of the total production of Pakistan, while Panjgur produces 83,000 tons. On the other hand, Sindh’s Khairpur district produces 237,000 tons, which is 42% of the total production of the country. “This makes Khairpur a densely palm populated area,” said a source at the Sindh Enterprise Development Fund (SEDF). In 2016, Pakistan exported dates worth $102 million, which could go up to $200 million, said Mir Mohsin Bullo, Assistant Manager TDAP Sub-Regional Office, Sukkur.
“The government needs to pay urgent attention to production, processing and quality enhancement, preservation, research and marketing to save and ensure growth of this potent source of foreign exchange,” he wrote in his report in October 2017. Yet, these issues still persist to date.